What does quality management at tropextrakt stand for, dear Ms Kehrer?
Our own high quality standards go beyond legal requirements and customer expectations. We spoke to the Head of our Quality Management Department, Karoline Kehrer, about this.
Ms Kehrer, what does product quality involve?
We define quality by four dimensions: traditional quality management, which was implemented across processes and systems; food safety as an indispensable value; transparency and efficient logistics; and the naturalness of our products, including the trends in this area.
A lot of people think that quality management is a dry subject.
Yes, but I see it differently. Quality is what really counts, and everyone benefits from it! The basis for everything: for safe food, for satisfied customers, for reliable suppliers, for innovative products, for the most efficient distribution channels, for our own confirmation, for long-term profitability and competitiveness. It is only the management of the associated processes which leads to the desired success. This is sometimes not that easy, but this makes it all the more exciting. It remains a new and interesting job every day!
What does a typical working day look like for you?
Laws, regulations and quality standards with regard to the cultivation, the production and the sale of food in third countries often differ considerably from the corresponding standards in the EU; this must be verified, coordinated and recorded. Our products are also regularly tested for pesticides and contaminants in accredited laboratories. In addition, questionnaires which have been compiled by our customers and ourselves and are completed by our suppliers must be analysed and logged.
That sounds like a vast amount of paper…
Yes, that’s true. The requirements which large companies have to meet nowadays are very extensive, and their complexity is increasing. This means that innovation could theoretically always pose a risk, as is always the case when you break new ground. But monitoring a producer in the Philippines, for example, is slightly different to monitoring one based in the Hessian mountains.
And that means?
That our daily task is firstly to ensure that the raw materials and all the associated processes satisfy the quality management requirements and secondly to make a record of this not only for us, but also for our customers.
You spoke of trends. Can you tell us a trend in the area of “naturalness”?
The result is a large array concepts related to naturalness. Here, there is a need for definitions and a development from “clean” to “clear label”. This means that not only is naturalness advertised, but there is also transparency about what is meant by this. We also advise our customers about this subjects and present solutions from throughout the world.
What other trends are there?
Consumers are attaching increasing value to a safer, higher quality and healthy diet.
And there is increasing differentiation with regard to diets: the German food industry must and would like to adapt to this altered or reproduced food culture. There are more people of different origins with their own traditions and trends who are dependent upon one another and influence one another. This development includes the increasing importance of certificates and product seals such as halal, kosher, organic, vegan and a number of product innovations.
What else is important in your daily work?
Auditing our producers is particularly important. We do not do this at our desks, but on the spot. Our company attaches great value to personal contact and the actual visual inspection. There are many things that you can only see when you are on the spot.
And if there are problems?
We like solving problems and are always striving towards continuous improvement, as we see standing still as a step backwards. We see ourselves more as pioneers and try to take pre-emptive measures to prevent problems before they occur in the first place. If you would like to offer something really new and exciting, you must develop quality-assured solutions around this offer. That is what we are there for.